BRIDGING THE GENDER DIVIDE THROUGH DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY Prof. Ranjana Aggarwal Director CSIR-NISTADS, New Dehli NISCAIR-DST-ICSTI International Conference Sep. 19-20, 2019
Digital: Technicallymeans an electronic technology that generates, stores and process data in binary states. In digital technology, data is transmitted and stored as strings of zeros and ones, each of which are referred to as bits. These bits are grouped together into bytes to represent data such as numbers, letters, images or sounds. What is Digital?
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) • ICTs are necessary ingredients for economic development in the so called “Knowledge Society” • ICTs provide ample opportunities for information access, communication and self expression. • Internet search, blogs, online multimedia resources, social media, wikis, as well as e-services create new arrangements of communication, engagement and social and economic behaviour. • New skills and competences are required to cope up with this transformations both in public and private sphere.
Digital Divide • The evocative term describes the gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at different socio-economic levels with regard to their opportunities to access ICT. • It also involves issue of their use that different individuals and organisations demonstrate for wide variety of activities. • Digital Gender Divide has also been identified whereby women access and use to ICTs less than men, which can exacerbate gender inequalities.
Digital Divide: Internet penetration rates are higher for men than for women Women tend to have less access to and control over resources, including access to broadband and ownership of mobile phones in low- and middle-income countries. Source: Internet Society
Digital Divide: Internet penetration rates are higher for men than for women Women are more likely than men to own less expensive and more basic mobile phones. Mobile phone is main device to access the internet, if women continue to own less sophsticated handsets they will be less likely than men to access to the internet. Cost remains the greatest barrier to own and using a Smartphone. Other common way to access Internet are personal computers, or at community multimedia centres, tele-centres or internet cafes. But they are off limit to women due to lack of safety measures, disapproval from family members and other socio-economic reasons.
Many Faces of Gender InequalityAn Essay by Amartya Sen • Mortality Inequality • Natality Inequality • Basic Facility Inequality • Special Opportunity Inequality • Professional Inequality • Ownership Inequality • Household Inequality
Limitations to women’s access to ICTs • Low literacy, limited technological access, technical expertise and inadequate infrastructure. • In many societies, women’s and men’s access and use of technology are rooted in behavioral, cultural, and religious traditions. • Cultural and social attitudes are often unfavorable to women’s participation in the fields of Women in Science and technology, which limits their opportunities in the area of ICT. • Women are often financially dependent on men or do not have control over economic resources making access to ICT services more difficult
Limitations to women’s access to ICTs • In some societies, women’s seclusion from the public arena makes access to tele-centers difficult. • Cybercrime particularly against women is a great barrier. • According to Intel’s (2013) “Women and the Web” report, women in India lack more in ICT awareness as compared to other emerging economies with 31% disinterested and 40 % unable to recognize its need in their lives. In addition, 48 % of Indian women were reported to have expressed that they were not comfortable or familiar with technologies.
Do ICTs have the potential to promote Gender Equality and Women Empowerment? • For some, online activity facilitates women empowerment, provide opportunities to challenge traditional norms and promotes gender equality. • Yet for others the internet provides more opportunities for the reproduction of patriarchies and exclusionary structures and practices other generation of novel ones.
ICT a tool for Inclusive participation • Participate more easily in the labour market and increase their incomes as e-commerce entrepreneurs, in online work, or in business process outsourcing. • Flexi times to make personal professional balance • Gain access to Education • Better health care • Financial services • Enable their participation in online networks to voice their concerns and advocate for change.
Reasons why ICT matters for gender equality MATERIAL CHANGE • ICT plays a vital role towards the margined of economy by providing earning capacity to the socially discriminated women together with socially dominated men. Through the economic participation on the mainstream development of household women have their individual satisfaction to their basic needs.
Reasons why ICT matters for gender equality COGNITIVE CHANGE • ICT influences the discriminated women’s knowledge and skills by their ICT-based involvement to the outer world. E-learning and various types of ICT based advertisement, telecasting and broadcasting enables the women to obtain effective knowledge and skills on their social environment.
Reasons why ICT matters for gender equality? PERCEPTUAL CHANGE • ICT utilization promotes the gender equality by providing discriminated women to a socially reorganization and respect to the outer world beyond their household interest. The socially isolated women have their individual confidence and future vision through the ICT based involvement to the outer world environment.
Reasons why ICT matters for gender equality RELATIONAL CHANGE • ICT enables the discriminated women to a bargaining position in the decision-making process. The substantial revenue by means of ICT in the family economy has elevated the position of women in their own households and the society they belong to. As well as the earning capacity of women through ICT oriented employment eliminated their dependency on other person in the house hold.
Reasons why ICT matters for gender equality TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE • ICT plays an important role on the way of promote gender equality by providing access of information, knowledge, skills and resource to the discriminated women to enhance their technical competence and expertise on the new technology.
Digital India Initiatives Digital India (DI) programme by the Govt. of India launched 1st of July 2015, a step towards the deliverance of government services in rural area via high speed network. KEY INITIATIVE: Digi Locker, MyGov.in, eSign Framework, National Scholarship Portal, Direct Benefit Transfer, DISHA, eHospital, Digitize India Platform, Common Service Centers (Gram Panchayat)
Increasing Dominance of Smart-Phones Internet Source: KANTAR IMRB 2018, 2019
Internet Users towards Gender Balance Figure 1: visualsstock.com Figure 2: entertails.com Source: KANTAR IMRB 2018, 2019
Summary of the Data of Internet Users • Rapid Growth in the number internet users in India • Major share of the internet users comes from wireless internet • Sharp increase in the women participation as internet users • Accessing fast and deeper into rural area • Majorly used for entertainment and communication in the Rural India.
Banking Deficiencies in Rural India • Of the 600,000 village habitations in India only 5%have a commercial bank branch • Only 40 % of the adult population have bank accounts • Debit card holders constitute only 13% of the population and only 2% have a credit card • 51.4% of nearly 89.3 million farm households do not have access to any credit either from institutional or non-institutional sources • Only 13 % of farm households are availing loans from the banks in the income bracket of < US$1000 • Agriculture requires timely credit to enable smooth functioning. However, only one-eighth of farm households avail bank credit Source: TRAI, Aranca Research
Impact of PMJDY and Scope for Digital Banking (World bank Global Index Report, 2107) • According to the report, due to PMJDY the bank account penetration has increased from 52% (2014) to 79% (2017) • Woman World Banking, Research and Prospectives (2019), reports that the gender gap in the bank accounts has reduced to 6% (2017) from 14% (2014) • Around 190millions of adults, consisting 60% women, remains unbanked • Of 48% inactive accounts 54% contribution comes from women accounts • 66% of inactive account holders have phone
Inference drawn from the Social Media and Banking Data • Not only messages but also audio-video and photo based interactive platforms are most popular • Urban India is twice more active that the rural India in whatsapp • PMJDY not only propels a towards sharp increase in bank accounts but also helped to decrease the gender gap • Almost half the bank accounts are inactive • There is a fair possibility of filling the gap using mobile
Digital Economy: Challenges for Rural Women • Rural women have least access to digital economy • Potentially worst affected would be the digitally illiterate or ignorant or unable ones in the traditional economy • Unable to avail benefits from Government schemes • Vulnerable to big and giant companies using with AI and Big data in business Example: Walmart’s effort to control supply chain in Nicaragua (Gender equality in digital economy)
Solution via Digital Awareness • To enable them to receive benefit from Government schemes available through digital network • Under the threat of consequences that may arise from technically strong big companies, it becomes important to make them aware of digital technology • To educate them about digital technology and encourage them to use it • To develop more interactive, audio-video based user-friendly apps and softwares to help digitally less literate and hesitant people to participate in the digital network
Policy Efforts • Teach digital skills from primary school onward taking advantage of near 100% primary enrolment rates to open up digital opportunities for everyone • Make internet capable devices more affordable to woman • Make broadband cheaper- Women earn on an average 10-30% less than men • Support the development of innovative last-mile connectivity and free or low cost public access points that are safe and women friendly, involving women collectives and organizations • Enact adequate legislative measures to protect women and girls from online harassment and violence.
Swami Vivekananda “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of woman is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”